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4 futures for veterinary practice managers
In the year 2020 ... what manager will you be? They might look similar, but your flavor of veterinary practice manager personality and approach to big change could make a big difference.
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Your future-even your distant future-won't include those things from Star Trek that make gourmet dinners appear out of molecules from the air. And pets won't get up on two legs and drive themselves to your veterinary practice themselves (even with Google's self-driving cars). But your future as a practice manager could very well wind up as one of these four short case studies. You can tell I think some of these options are better than others (hint hint, nudge nudge).
Pick a future “you” you'll love from this snippet from one of my recent Practice Management sessions at Fetch …
"No one can compete with what I do for my clients in the room!"
In the year 2020 ... you're an independent high flyer!
Your practice goes its own way, and you keep it growing and financially healthy.
Your clients have less money, but you put together payment strategies for them that put great care within reach.
Your clients might pay more than they would at the corporate practice down the road, and they may wait longer to see you, if necessary, and ignore the online ads of your corporate competitors because you matter when it matters most: face-to-face, in the lobby, in the exam room, in the community and on social media.
You're known in the community through your presence online, through your involvement in neighborhood activities, and through your practice owner's (and your own!) charismatic leadership.
You're an entrepreneur and a businessperson who trusts your gut and takes risks.
You're a part of a loose union of similar independent practices that share management strategies and pricing information, broker buying deals and collaborate on exit strategies.
You treat your team members like family while inspiring them to reach stratospheric levels of client service and patient care.
You're happy. Your team members are happy too.
"Corporate board rooms, here I come!"
In the year 2020 ... you'll be part of a global machine!
You may be one practice in a baker's dozen, or part of a larger company of 50 or more.
Your salary is sustainable, so the new owners keep you.
Future in the Borg-err, corporate medicine
They're not evil, people. Working for a bigger company-a more-than-one-or-two-practice chain-has its pros and cons. Explore them:
• Use this algorithm to figure out whether corporate employment is right for you.
• Read from experts on the benefits and drawbacks of working for a bigger company.
You may be asked to focus more on payroll and inventory costs and take more aggressive measures to reduce both.
You have more access to HR and legal advice, marketing materials, and the support of other managers of your caliber and experience level.
You may have chances to shine in management roles beyond a single practice.
"Come on, just a few more years and I can get out ... "
In the year 2020 ... you'll fade into the sunset!
You wait for the future to happen, playing constant catch-up instead of proactively planning.
You coast along until business as usual doesn't work and hundreds of thousands of dollars of practice value slip through your and the practice owner's fingers.
"Working for industry sounds like a better deal every day."
In the year 2020 ... you'll fly to new horizons!
You're pressured to retire or you wind up costing too much for a penny-pinched practice owner to afford.
Your practice owner loves you but just can't afford your experience, knowledge base and education.
You fight for a position with a larger private or corporate-owned practice, but competition for the salary that comes along with such a job is stiff, not only from within the ranks of other veterinary practice managers (and CVPMs), but among young, talented MBA graduates scouring the job scene for work.
Bash Halow, CVPM, LVT, is a partner with Halow Tassava Consulting, a frequent speaker at the Fetch veterinary conferences and a regular contributor to dvm360.com and Firstline magazine.